It is certain that Prince Harry will receive a peerage on his wedding day, most likely a dukedom (with subsidiary earldom and barony) but this is not set in stone. He could get an earldom and a viscountcy just like Uncle Edward (the Earl of Wessex. (When Charles is the sovereign, and the Duke of Edinburgh deceased, Edward will be created Duke of Edinburgh. He will not succeed to his father's peerage.)
An earldom seems less likely as Harry's children will have the rank of daughters and younger sons of a duke (if he is given no peerage at all.) This is due to George V's Letters Patent that limited the HRH and title prince and princess to the children of the Sovereign, grandchildren of the sovereign in the male line and the eldest son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales.
"Whitehall, 11th December, 1917.
The KING has been pleased by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, bearing date the 30th ultimo, to define the styles and titles to be borne henceforth by members of the Royal Family. It is declared by the Letters Patent that the children of any Sovereign of the United Kingdom and the children of the sons of any such Sovereign and the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales shall have and at all times hold and enjoy the style, title or attribute of Royal Highness with their titular dignity of Prince or Princess prefixed to their respective Christian names or with their other titles of honour; that save as aforesaid the titles of Royal Highness, Highness or Serene Highness, and the titular dignity of Prince and Princess shall cease except those titles already granted and remaining unrevoked; and that the grandchildren of the sons of any such Sovereign in the direct male line (save only the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales) shall have the style and title enjoyed by the children of Dukes."
Queen Elizabeth issued a Letters Patent in 2012, shortly before the birth of Prince George, extending the HRH and the title of prince or princess to the all the children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales. The primary reason for this was the Succession to the Crown Act, which allows for the succession of the eldest child, regardless of sex. If she had not issued the new Letters Patent and the Duke of Cambridge's first child was a girl, she would have been styled as the Lady Charlotte Windsor and her younger brother would have been styled as HRH Prince George of Cambridge until their grandfather succeeded to the throne and they were all automatically upgraded to royal highnesses and princes and princes.
"The Queen has been pleased by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the Realm dated 31 December 2012 to declare that all the children of the eldest son of The Prince of Wales should have and enjoy the style, title and attribute of Royal Highness with the titular dignity of Prince or Princess prefixed to their Christian names or with such other titles of honour."
Harry's children will have the style and title of children of a duke whether he has a peerage or not. If he is created a Duke, the eldest son will have a courtesy peerage. Unless Charles issues a new Letters Patent that further limits the HRH and title of Princess and Princess, Harry's children will have an automatic upgrade when their grandfather becomes king. Two possible scenarios: When Meghan is expecting her first child, the Queen could issue a new Letters Patent that extends the HRH and title of Prince or Princess to Harry's children so they will be royal during her lifetime or Harry could decide that he does not want his children to be royal and they will have the title and style of children of a duke.
For the sake of this post, let me speculate on the possible dukedom. Cross off your list the following titles: Connaught, Cumberland and Teviotdale and, perhaps, Albany.
Connaught is in the Republic of Ireland. Cumberland and Teviotdale and Albany are in abeyance, although, the dukedom of Albany may be eligible for recreation. The title was created by Queen Victoria for her youngest son, Prince Leopold, in 1881. He was created Duke of Albany, Earl of Clarence and Baron Arklow. Leopold died in March 1884. His second child, a son, Charles Edward, was born posthumously in July 1884, and, at birth, succeeded to his father's peerages. Charles Edward, as Carl Eduard, succeeded his paternal uncle, Alfred, as Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
The Titles Deprivation Act (1917) stripped Prince Ernst August of Hanover (1878-1923) and Carl Eduard, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1884-1954), who were on Germany's side during the first world war. Ernst August was the head of the House of Hanover and Carl Eduard was a grandson of Queen Victoria. The Titles Deprivation Act included a provision that would allow an heir to the title to claim it if he had not fought for Germany during the first world war. This means Ernst August's son, Prince Ernst August, the Duke of Brunswick and Lüneburg, was also barred from succeeding because he served in the war. The latter's son, Ernst August IV (1914-1987) was eligible to petition Parliament for reinstatement. In the mid-1990s, several German papers reported that the present head of the House of Hanover, Prince Ernst August V (1954) was going to petition the British Parliament for reinstatement for the peerages. Ernst August issued a statement denying the reports.
Carl Eduard's eldest son, Prince Johann Leopold (1906-1972) was too young to serve in the first world war. Johann Leopld's eldest son, Ernst Leopold (1935-1996) claimed the use of the Albany title, even used it on stationary (Herzog von Albany). His eldest son, Hubertus Prinz von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha (1961) has the right to petition Parliament but has no interest in doing so.
The reason for the dukedom of Albany to be available is due to the Royal Marriages Act. Carl Eduard was married in accordance of the Act, but his none of his children, including his sons, sought permission from the British Sovereign to marry.
Carl Eduard's eldest son, Prince Johann Leopold's marriage was morganatic and he and his male descendants were ineligible for the Coburg titles and estates . The succession devolved in Carl Eduard's youngest son, Prince Friedrich Josias, whose son, Prince Andreas, is the present head of the family. Prince Johann Leopold's eldest son, Ernst Leopold Prinz von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, adopted the use of the title Herzog of Albany, although he never petitioned the British Parliament for reinstatement.
|Patrick Montague-Smith would become the editor of Debrett's Peerage. This letter to the editor was published on July 30, 1949.|
The marriages are Carl Eduard's children were not legal in the United Kingdom, according to Royal Marriages Act. In other words, Carl Eduard's sons were not eligible for the Albany dukedom because Johann Leopold never sought approval for his marriage, thus, rendering the dukedom available for recreation.
Sussex is a popular possibility. The first Duke of Sussex (Prince Augustus) was given by King George III to his sixth son. Both of Prince Augustus' marriages were in contravention of the Royal Marriages act. Neither of his two wives were styled as the Duchess of Sussex. Miss Markle would be the first consort Duchess of Sussex.
Clarence. Another possibility. Bad vibes about George Plantagenet (1449-1478), brother of Richard III, who was created Duke of Clarence in 1461. Drowning in a butt of malmsey, allegedly.
Meghan is a descendant of Lionel, Duke of Clarence, son of Edward III.
William IV, fourth son of King George III, was Duke of Clarence and St. Andrews before he succeeded to the throne in 1830. Clarence House was named for this duke.
The most recent Duke of Clarence (and Avondale) was Prince Albert Victor (1864-1892) of Wales, the elder son of the Prince and Princess of Wales. The cause of death was pneumonia. He caught a chill at the funeral of his father's first cousin, Prince Victor of Hohenlohe-Langenburg at the end of December 1891.
Kendal. There were reports that Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg and Saafeld, husband of Princess Charlotte of Wales, the heiress presumptive to the throne, was going to be created Duke of Kendal. Never happened. George I created his mistress Ehrengard Melusine von der Schulenburg as Duchess of Kendal.
Ross. the peerage was created twice for sons of the King of Scotland, most recently for Alexander (1514-1515), the posthumous son of King of James IV.
Several people have mentioned the Dukedom of Hereford, which was created in 1397 for Henry Bolingbroke, son of John of Gaunt. The title merged with the Crown two years later when Bolingbroke usurped the throne from Richard II.
The title will not be recreated due to Viscount Hereford, the oldest extant Viscountcy in the Peerage of England. The viscountcy was created in 1550. The title was created for Walter Devereux, 9th Baron Ferrers of Chartley.
Strathearn. Another no go, as William is the Earl of Strathearn.